Media Review: Check It, documentary film, 2016

This is an incredible documentary covering the Check It, an African-American LGBTQ youth gang in Washington D.C., and features many of its members and their supporters. The gang began because some 9th graders who were seen as gay were being targeted for violence. Being beat up most places they went, it became dangerous to be alone. Eventually the Check It gang grew to more than 200 members. Together, the Check It became the second family its members needed, a place to belong, be protected by, and earn income with.

The documentary flows as it follows the lives of a few of Check Its leaders. Most of these youth call themselves gay, however, one could also call them AMAB, transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, or queer. As we see what their lives are like there’s some important interviews from cisgender and heterosexual folx. We learn that the African-American LGBTQ community in D.C. generally calls all gender and sexual minorities “gay”. It seems to be something that is not accepted, is ridiculed, and Cis/Het street justice is rampant. These youth come from broken families due to divorce or imprisonment, poverty, histories of violence, drug culture and sex work as a means of survival. Check It turns to each other when no others can help as they do sex work to make ends meet.

The film also covers some supporters from the local D.C. area. A police officer specializing in gangs, a boxing gym owner, a fashion industry worker, and a parent or two. We watch as these folx with huge hearts try to turn these youth around for the better. Teaching Check It, which is mostly comprised of high school drop-outs or forced-outs, how to make money, legally, doing things they’re passionate about like boxing and fashion. I was impressed by the grass roots activism that brought six of these youth to Fashion Week in New York City and some boxing tournaments. It took a lot of work, but the mentors taught them self-confidence, responsibility, teamwork, professionalism, and gave them hope. When you’re sixteen and make a living pleasuring strange men in their cars, it seemed clear, that hope quickly fades. It took a lot of work, but the mentors taught them self-confidence, responsibility, teamwork, professionalism, and gave them hope.

The main lesson I witnessed in this film is how we can use our sets of privilege, no matter how small or large, to help each other. Our children and youth are in danger. We can help them in many ways. In this film we see how a fashion industry worker helped Check It to make their own clothing line. Progress. Maybe other youth can grow up making and selling T-shirts instead of doing sex work. Maybe they’ll go on to design their own clothing lines, write their own books, be interviewed on TV? Maybe you can step in and teach one of our children and youth that somehow, they matter, too. If you’re a trans, non-binary, or gender non-conforming child or youth reading this I want you to know you are loved and are not alone.

Check It can be found on Hulu

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Dasia Anderl

My pronouns are: she/her/hers. I’m happily married, have two cats, we chose not to have children, working more than full time, about to go back to college for: interior design, renewable energy, construction and project management, Carpentry and cabinetry. I hope to found my own design/build firm. My partner and I also look forward to designing and building our own house. Some of my favorite pastimes are getting my nails done, going for bike rides, watching movies, playing with LEGOS, going to museums, enjoying nudist resorts, showing up to Pan and Trans Activism events, okay and LGQ, too, I support all of us, concerts are cool but music festivals are wayyy kewl and best for me, jetskiing, kayaking, camping, disc golf, drawing, making new furniture or furniture new again and taking my partner out for dates.
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8 Comments
  1. Tia 6 days ago

    Awesome as usual “D” Now all we need is a person to organize all LGBTQH/I’s and we could be a force to be reckoned with. Much can and maybe / soon will be learned from these seemingly insignificant groups when brought out and about by advocates like you “D” ! once again, Awesome job.
    Huggz Tia

    • Author
      Dasia Anderl 6 days ago

      Right on, Tia, thanks! I think organizing can work for some things like conferences, Prides, Lobby Days and festivals but…the legal system route is more an individual thing. Sometimes it’s a class action thing or legislature group thing but the legal changes that make most of the headlines have always been individuals. I think we need to keep going. Telling our bosses, our teachers, our families, our friends, and our legislators that we’re done taking their abuse and we won’t shut up about it. That’s pretty much how Check It got noticed, aside from getting in fights, and folx started helping them out. I get noticed because I say something to those who abuse me. I complain. I educate sometimes, but usually try to get them to educate themselves. Being persistent and peaceful , being able to compromise, but never backing down has been paying off for me. What works best for you, Tia?

      • Tia 2 days ago

        Dasia I was referring to becoming a number our legislators will consider as a benefit for our vote. Once they promise us our deserving rights, we can pounce LOL so 2 speak… My bad, should have been more clear

        • Author
          Dasia Anderl 2 days ago

          Oh, I gotcha. One day I hope Cis Americans will start respecting that Trans Americans are worthy of human rights as the UN outlines for all humans. One day at a time, Tia. 😉

  2. Michelle Liefde 7 days ago

    Dasia, thank you for always introducing new media to our members through insightful and well crafted reviews. This is another that I hope to watch soon.

    Michelle

    • Author
      Dasia Anderl 6 days ago

      You betcha, Michelle! I’m glad you’re enjoying my articles. I think media is a wonderful way to learn about all of the varying cultures and experiences within the transgender community.

  3. Cloe (CC) Webb 1 week ago

    I read this and just had to be a bit dumbstruck in the contrast with the transgender community I encounter in DC. There is clearly a disparity that is truly socioeconomic at it’s core. I’ll look this up on Hulu and come back with a more thoughtful response.

    Cloe

    • Author
      Dasia Anderl 1 week ago

      I was set aback by the terminology being used by Check It and their allies. Reminded me of pre-1950’s, and in some parts more recently, GSM history I’ve read how we were all called gay or the h-word. I look forward to hearing more from you on this movie.

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